Curves Book Photographer
by Saida M.
When about 2 years ago, I introduced my best friend Anastasia
to another friend and a great photographer, Victoria Janashvili
– who I hoped was going to join us in our first photo collaboration- I couldn’t even have guessed the amazing path that we were all going to embark onto over the next couple of years! We had a blast shooting me for Anastasia’s body-art project
and Victoria and her went on to work together on many more collaborations. The three of us are all very different, but we share our goals in a mission to make this world more beautiful place in every way we can. And we believe in the Universe.
Photo by Yuliya Miroshnikova
When the talks about the book started we all got really excited, because somehow no one had a doubt that Vicky was going to get it done, yet I don’t think anyone event imagined what followed soon after. You see, when Victoria Janashvili sets her goals, whether it’s to get a pilot’s license, move to cross country to LA because New York got boring or get a book published- things happen!
Fast forward two years ahead and Vicky, as friends lovingly call her, is sipping champagne with Russell Simmons
in a gorgeous East Village penthouse triplex, where she has gathered press, celebrities and dozens of women who participated in a project called Curves Book to celebrate the official release of the book.
From the pages of Curves.
The book started with a Kickstarter campaign (that I covered almost a year go
) and ended up being embraced by the public and media so much, that a larger series was printed than initially projected.
Curves Book celebrates female beauty in all shapes, sizes and colors. In this book Victoria portrayed women from all sides of life: there are skinny and there are petite bodies, there are muscles and tattoos, there are bodies without limbs, there are folds and sharp edges, there are freckles and scars, there are shades of all skin colors and hair of all textures.
Some of the images will captivate you with magical curves and body art (a lot of it by Anastasia, by the way), while others might shock you or make you question by which standards you view and value beauty. It makes you rethink societal standards for beauty and what we value in women today.
Our bodies deserve to be looked upon as unique vessels, not shapes that fit or don’t fit into a stencil.
And then there are essays. They accompany most photos in the book. There are short and long stories to inspire and unite in a strong message to other women, that we need to accept ourselves and each other and thrive in our uniqueness.
There are stories of struggles associated with self image, overcoming shame, social standards, weight, sexuality, triumphant stories of victories and rebirth, happy stories and sad, from women of all backgrounds.
Needless to say, at the time, knowing what I knew about Curves Book and people involved in the project, I was thrilled when Vicky asked me to be in the book. As one of the models. And to submit an essay . And this is how I found myself on the pages of Curves Book.
My spread in the book.
On a warm August day, after a few months of head spinning schedule cross-fires that most of the time put us at opposite ends of the globe, Vicky and I finally got together. We sat down in a Soho restaurant on a Sunday afternoon to chat about life, how it all happened, the ways of the Universe and what we think it all really means.
TFH: You have done dozens of interviews, what is the best question that you received about this book so far?
VJ: I think that the best question I was asked was why did I start making the book in the first place. And the honest answer to it is that I have no idea.
TFH: Would you say that this project found You?
VJ: Without any doubt! Last October I sat down in prayer and I asked the Universe to send me a project or something that would help me use my skill in order to do to make good change in the world. Shortly afterwords somebody started talking to me about making a photography book, somebody else helped me create the kickstarter campaign, people helped me raise money, arrange the photo shoots, find the right people and so on. Truthfully the only thing that I needed to do was show up and be me!
TFH: Was there any particular photo shoot that stood out for you during the making of this book?
VJ: Every photo shoot was special in one way or another but the most special one was Josette. This girl was born without arms and legs and she found me on Facebook and messaged me that she wanted to be in the book and then she flew all the way from Arizona to New York to be in the photo shoot. When I was taking pictures she specifically wanted me to take nude shots and not cover her up. She said that she’s beautiful the way she is and she doesn’t need to be covered. After the photo shoot we went to dinner and I learned the most amazing things about her and how her disability is not stopping her at all in anyway from enjoying life and being a happy person.
With Josette and Marina Bulatkina at Curves Book release party earlier this year.
From the pages of Curves.
TFH: You have met and worked with a lot of women on this project, is there anything in particular that you have learned from these women that you would want to share with other women?
VJ: I learned a tremendous much since I started making the book! I learned to respect people in their journeys a lot more, I learned that I’m not the smartest person in the room, I also have learned that physical appearance and struggles that people go through have nothing to do with their state of happiness.
TFH: You have probably answered every question possible about this book but I want to ask you something personal. After all this time, do you feel that this project has changed you in someway that you haven’t yet talked about?
VJ: This project made me a lot more spiritual than I would ever think I’d be. It affected me in ways that are very strange to me. I learned how powerful the universe is and how how much she can give you and how much she also can support you when you’re doing things from your heart and for the good of people. I learned that if you ask for anything you will get it in your own time, in the right pace and exactly when you need it. You can ask for experiences, you can ask for love, you can ask for wealth, you can also ask for struggles, even pain and anything you ask for will come true.
I’d say that this book was something that I asked for and it came to me. All of the women who shared their stories with me in the book told me about experiences that shaped them as human beings, as souls, and my outcome was that all of their dreams came true in the weirdest of ways. I live in a very strange reality now that is new and I’m still getting used to it. I get signs from God, our universe- however you want to call it- every day. All of of my dreams come true before I even have the time to dream them through. I no longer need money, I no longer need acceptance, I no longer really need anything but just be, learn and expand!
Lily Cummings and Heather Hazzan
Chelsea AnneMiller in front of her portrait from Curves Book.
Photo by Yuliya Miroshnikova
TFH: What does self-expression mean to you as a woman in today’s world? Being a woman and being true to yourself, what does that entail for you?
VJ: There’s this thing called the Seven Laws of the Universe or Law of One. One of the laws – the Law of Gender states that everything in the universe divides into male and female. Gender is in everything; everything and everyone has it’s masculine and feminine principles. Interestingly, this division is present in a lot of languages – Russian or French for instance.
I don’t believe in feminism or anything like that. I think that it’s a huge insult for both men and women to be called equal. We are different but we can only reach our true spiritual and existential high by discovering and uniting with the other. So being a woman is a fascinating experience that I’m excited to dig into. But back to your question – I can talk about wearing skirts or curling my hair, but that’s all BS since I don’t know what being true to myself as a woman means since I haven’t met my counter part yet. So it’s like darkness without light, femininity in me doesn’t truly know itself yet.
TFH: So would you say that you have come closer to your feminine side during this project, that it helped you get closer to your true feminine self?
VJ: Not really. I feel like I am still struggling in ways to find my real feminine side because I truly see myself as an energy and most of the times I don’t divide myself into feminine or masculine. However, I would like to see myself more as a feminine energy. And that’s why sometimes I help myself into it by choosing feminine clothing or taking care of myself in a more feminine way. But I feel that I need to meet my masculine counterpart to truly discover the woman in me.
TFH: And where do you see yourself five years from now?
VJ: Five years from now I see myself very happy, married with children and dogs, living mostly in New York City but also someplace by the sea part of the year, doing things that make me very happy and inspiring people around the world to love themselves the way they are.
Victoria with Russell Simmons, who is apparently a big fan of the Curves Book project. Photos by Rafael Clemente
With AC Schwartz. Photo by Rafael Clemente.
With Denise Bidot, Katy Syme, Ju LeGault and Samantha Bolger. Photo by Rafael Clemente.
With Patrick Kyle and Diandra Forrest. Photo by Rafael Clemente.
TFH: And where do you see yourself professionally five years from now?
VJ: I’m not planning to work at all! If I’m going to do something with my life, I’m not going to do it for money! I will only do it if it feels right to me. This is something that I want to do right now- if I’m being paid for something, that’s nice, and if not, that’s also nice, that’s cool with me.
Hard at work!
TFH: So you want to create without having to think about financial reward for your work, do I understand you correctly?
VJ: I don’t think I ever had this way of thinking. I’m starting to believe more and more that money has nothing to do with work. Reward for your work is a separate energy that comes into your life when you really feel like you need or deserve it.
TFH: If you could change one thing about the world today what would it be?
VJ: Absolutely nothing.
TFH: Nothing bothers you in a current state of things?
VJ: I strongly believe that this world is a perfect place and we come here to challenge our souls. And so everybody is in a different state off advancement. I don’t know how to explain it right… See, some people need certain types of struggles to advance their souls. Some people need to go through divorce, through pain, disease, even death, to learn something about themselves. This world would be a very senseless place if it was perfect. I strongly believe that every struggle is being sent to us in order to advance our souls and advancing our souls is the reason why we are on this planet.
With plus size model and muse Marina Bulatkina.
With mom- Elena Detwiler
You can buy your copy of CURVES BOOK here and with an exclusive code for www.twentyfivehundred.com readers, you get 10% off on your entire order. Just use the code Yourtribe10 at checkout!
This book is on my list of gift recommendations for Holidays!
Until next time!